June 22, 2018

2018 Forever Blueshirts Mock Draft: Rangers Get Their Man

NHL

Rena Laverty

The 2018 NHL Entry draft is almost upon us and the suspense and intrigue continue to build before the Friday night spectacle. The 31 NHL clubs will meet in Dallas with hopes to better their respective franchises for years to come. Beyond Rasmus Dahlin going first overall and Andrei Svechnikov going second overall, this draft is as wide open as it’s been in years. Will Montreal take a center? Who are the Rangers going with? What will our fierce rivals, the Islanders, and Devils, end up doing? Find out all that and more in the 2018 Forever Blueshirts Mock Draft.1) Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin – D – Frolunda – SHL (6’1”, 187 lbs)2017-18 stats: 41 GP – 7 G, 13 A – 20 pointsIf you’re a Buffalo Sabres fan, you can have your Dahlin jersey made. The consensus number one overall pick, this kid is a generational talent on the blueline and will anchor the Sabres defense corps for years to come. A power-play unit consisting of Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt and Dahlin? That’s going to strike fear into opponents in the coming years.2) Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov – RW – Barrie Colts – OHL  (6’3”, 187 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 44 GP – 40 G, 32 A – 72 PointsWith comparisons being made to fellow countrymanAlex Ovechkin and Finnish phenom Patrik Laine, this kid is just too good for the Hurricanes to pass up at second overall. The Hurricanes, the biggest beneficiaries of this year’s draft lottery, will get a kid who can step in right away and immediately be an impact player for their team. Great size, amazing offensive capabilities and as pure a sniper as you can find. Svechnikov is the rare, complete package franchise winger.3) Montreal Canadiens – Filip Zadina – LW – Halifax Mooseheads – QMJHL (6’1”, 192 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 57 GP – 44 G, 38 A – 82 pointsTalent will outweigh risk here. Although rumors have run wild that the Canadiens will possibly select Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, I think they will ultimately go with the best player available and that’s Zadina. Pure sniper is the best way to describe Zadina, although his playmaking skills are not to be underestimated. Acquiring a winger of this caliber doesn’t get the Canadiens the center they desperately need, but the talent of Zadina is too good to pass up. With Zadina though, exploring a possible Max Pacioretty trade for a center makes more sense.4) Ottawa Senators – Adam Boqvist – D – Brynas IF – SHL (5’11”, 165 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 47 GP – 14 G, 13 A – 27 points (Split season between SHL, Allsvenskan and SuperElit)Erik Karlsson will most likely be gone this summer. The Senators have basically burnt bridges with their franchise player and Boqvist will be the guy that will eventually overtake Karlsson’s place on the blueline. Boqvist has an amazing shot and is quite the puck wizard. He’s as dynamic as they come on the blueline and although he may not reach Karlsson’s heights, he is still a franchise caliber defenivse prospect. He may need a few years of seasoning but the rebuilding Sens can afford to wait.5) Arizona Coyotes – Noah Dobson – D – Acadie-Bathurst Titan – QMJHL (6’3”, 179 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 67 GP – 17 G, 52 A – 69 pointsDobson was one of the great risers of this year’s draft class and winning the Memorial Cup with Acadie-Bathurst just proved this kid is as rock solid on defense as they come. Some scouts and analysts think he is the best 1v1 defender in this draft and he is as steady as they come in his own end. With forward prospects like Ryan Strome, Nick Merkley and Tyler Steenbergen in their system, the Coyotes should add Dobson to a defense corps that suddenly looks pretty good. Ekman-Larsson, Hjalmarsson, Chychrun, Dobson, Demers…. Not bad at all Arizona, not bad at all.6) Detroit Red Wings – Brady Tkachuk – LW – Boston University – NCAA (6’3”, 196 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 40 GP – 8 G, 23 A – 31 pointsA big, nasty and skilled winger that has NHL pedigree. All year we’ve heard how Tkachuk strikes fear into opponents and doesn’t shy away from the big moments. He was a crucial piece of the team USA’s great run at the World Junior Championships this year and scored some memorable goals against Canada. Tkachuk will give the Red Wings a highly skilled power forward that will help them for years to come.7) Vancouver Canucks –  Quinton Hughes – D – Univ. of Michigan – NCAA (5’10”, 174 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 37 GP – 5 G, 24 A – 29 pointsPossibly the smoothest skating defenseman in the entire draft, Hughes will make the rebuilding Canucks very happy. He has great vision and can take over a game with his decision making and ability to move the puck up the ice. The Canucks will gain a massive boost to their defense corps with this pick and they can afford to let Hughes continue growing in the college ranks. With reigning SHL MVP, Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen both on the way for the Canucks, they could use a good prospect to bolster their blue line.8) Chicago Blackhawks – Evan Bouchard – D – London Knights – OHL – (6’2”, 192 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 67 GP –  25 G, 62 A – 87 pointsBooming shot? You got it. Excellent vision and hockey IQ? That’s there also. Leadership qualities? He was the captain of the London Knights this past season. Evan Bouchard is everything the Chicago Blackhawks need right now. With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook entering the twilight of their careers, the Blackhawks could use this big blueliner who can one day anchor this team’s defense. You’d be hard pressed to find a better match for the Blackhawks at this position.9) New York Rangers – Oliver Wahlstrom – RW – USNTDP – USDP (6’1”, 207 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 62 GP – 48 G, 46 A – 94 pointsThe Rangers get their guy at number nine. Wahlstrom is a pure goal scorer and looked absolutely dominant this past season with the USNTDP U18 squad. He’s a shoot first player and man, can he shoot the puck. According to Cutis Joe of eliteprospects.com, Wahlstrom can be “uncontainable” in the offensive zone. He has the size, skating ability and skill to be a top line winger in the NHL. Wahlstrom is committed to Boston College next season but don’t be shocked if he makes the jump to the Rangers the year after.10 – Edmonton Oilers – Ty Smith – D – Spokane Chiefs – WHL (5’10”, 170 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 69 GP – 14 G, 59 A – 73 pointsThe Oilers need to draft a defenseman and there are none better at this point in the draft than Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs. Regarded as the best WHL prospect this year, Smith is a crafty blueliner that has elite skating ability. Smith is a guy that could easily go higher in this draft and has a lot of the same upside as guys like Hughes and Dobson. The Oilers have some great offensive talent with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl leading the way and Smith would be a great injection of skill on their blueline.11) New York Islanders – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – C – Assat – Liiga (6’2”, 190 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 57 GP – 10 G, 19 A – 29 pointsThe Islanders begin their back-to-back selections with a highly skilled, big bodied center from Finland. Kotkaniemi has shot up the draft boards in recent weeks and some scouts and analysts think he could even jump into the top-five or top-three depending on the Montreal Canadiens. Getting him at 11 will be a great pick for the Islanders as he gives them yet another great center. Regardless of John Tavares staying or leaving Brooklyn, it’s never bad in the NHL to have too much center depth.12) New York Islanders (From CGY) – Bode Wilde – D – USNTDP – USDP (6’2”, 196 pounds)2017-18 Stats: 61 GP – 12 G, 29 A – 41 pointsWith their second half of their back-to-back picks, the Islanders go for potential. Wilde seems to have a sky-high ceiling but he still makes some questionable decisions with the puck. He has a fantastic shot and shows flashes of what he can be if his game trends in the right direction. This pick could pay dividends for the Isles if Wilde pans out as one of the games next great offensive defenseman. The Islanders have great offensive talent and Wilde will be a nice addition to their young blueline.13) Dallas Stars  – Joe Veleno – C – Drummondville Voltigeurs – QMJHL (6’1”, 194 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 64 GP – 22 G, 57 A – 79 pointsThe Stars get someone who many consider to be the best overall center in this draft. Veleno was granted exceptional status to play major junior hockey when he was 15 and had ridiculous pressure on him for most of his career. A mid-season trade from the St. John Sea Dogs to the Voltigeurs seemed to awaken a sleeping giant and Veleno began to demolish the competition. The Stars get their second line center of the future here to line up behind Tyler Seguin. Veleno also gives them the flexibility to move Jason Spezza.14) Philadelphia Flyers (From STL) – Joel Farabee – LW – USNTDP – USDP (6’0”, 168 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 62 GP – 33 G, 43 A – 76 pointsThe Flyers get a winger that was part of the dangerous three-headed monster on the USNTDP’s top line. Farabee, joined by (likely) 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom formed an absolutely dominant top line this past year. Farabee has a deadly shot and knows where to be to get his chances on the ice. Farabee playing on Nolan Patrick or Sean Couturier’s wing will be too good for the Flyers to pass up.15) Florida Panthers – Rasmus Sandin – D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – OHL (5’11”, 190 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 51 GP – 12 G, 33 A – 45 pointsNot the best skating defenseman in the draft but one who clearly makes up for it in other areas. He led all OHL rookies in plus-minus with a +35 and led all first-year defenseman in the OHL with 51 points. He can shoot the puck well, makes great passes and would look great on a Florida Panthers defense corps that includes Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson. Skilled puck-moving defensemen are never a bad choice.16) Colorado Avalanche – Barrett Hayton – C – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – OHL (6’1”, 185 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 63 GP – 21 G, 39 A – 60 pointsHayton is a fantastic two-way center with nice offensive skills. Many scouts and analysts see him as the next Morgan Frost in the sense that he is just reaching the potential he has and could explode next year. The Avalanche are in the middle of a great rebuild and Hayton will look great playing center for the Avs. A center corps consisting of Nathan Mackinnon, Hayton, Alexander Kerfoot and Carl Soderberg is really good; and if Hayton blooms like he’s projected to, the Avs will be set at center for years to come.17) New Jersey Devils –  Ty Dellandrea – C – Flint Firebirds – OHL (6’1”, 190 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 67 GP – 27 G. 32 A – 59 pointsThe Devils shocked everyone this year with their fast play and a surprising wild card berth in the playoffs. Taylor Hall had an MVP season and Nico Hischier is looking like he is going to be a great center in this league. The Devils take a bit of a chance here on Dellandrea but make no mistake: Dellandrea is an excellent skater and had to drive almost all of the offense on a not so good Firebirds team. Surround him with some better talent and Dellandrea could blossom. Hischier, Dellandrea and Zajac down the middle ‘ain’t too shabby for the Devils. Dellandrea has great size as well.18) Columbus Blue Jackets – Isac Lundeström – C/LW – Lulea HF – SHL (6’0”, 183 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 42 GP – 6 G, 9 A – 15 pointsConsidered one of the best two-way players in this draft, Lundeström maks perfect sense for the Blue Jackets at 18th overall. The Jackets have great depth on their wings and on the defensive side of the puck but their center depth could use some help. Lundestrom would look great in their lineup behind Pierre-Luc Dubois. Lundeström is a jack-of-all-trades type player and a fairly safe pick, all things considered. Lundeström also has a sneaky good shot.19) Philadelphia Flyers – Grigori Denisenko – LW – Loko Yaroslavl – MHL (5’10”, 165 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 31 GP – 9 G, 13 A – 22 pointsA bit of a wild child, but one that could pay dividends for the Flyers in the near future. The kid has an immense amount of skill and untapped potential. He knows how to finish his chances and he knows how to make plays. He dazzles with the puck on his stick and would be a welcome addition on Sean Couturier or Nolan Patrick’s wing in the near future. He has some maturity and consistency issues to work out but since the Flyers have multiple first round picks they can afford to take a chance on this Russian puck wizard.20) Los Angeles Kings – Serron Noel – RW – Oshawa Generals – OHL (6’5”, 209 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 62 GP – 28 G, 25 A – 53 pointsThis hulking power forward has all the raw potential in the world. Scouts wonder where he will fall in this draft but the Los Angeles Kings would be wise to take him at 20th overall. Imagine a guy with his size and hands playing with Anze Kopitar? That’s a deadly combination for the Kings to think about and Noel seems like he is only going to get better after putting up fantastic numbers in his second year with the Generals. Noel could prove to be one of the better value picks in this draft.21) San Jose Sharks – Rasmus Kupari – C – Karpat – Liiga (5’1”, 163 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 39 GP – 6 G, 8 A – 14 pointsKupari is being compared to fellow countryman Sebastian Aho (the Carolina Hurricanes winger, not the Islanders defenseman), and boy does he look like he could be something in this league. Although he will have to bulk up before he makes a run to the NHL, Kupari already looks like he has the smarts and skill to take on the big leagues. He had a great season in the low-scoring Liiga playing against much older competition. Along with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, Kupari would be a great addition to the Sharks center depth in the coming years.22) Ottawa Senators (From Pittsburgh) –  Akil Thomas – C – Niagara IceDogs – OHL (6’0”, 170 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 68 GP – 22 G, 59 A – 81 pointsThomas will be a great addition to the rebuilding Senators. Along with fellow centermen Logan Brown and Matt Duchene, the Sens can have nice depth down the middle of the ice in the coming years. While undersized, Thomas has excellent vision, great speed and would fit well with guys like Mark Stone and Colin White. Thomas probably needs another year or two to fill out his frame and bulk up for the rigors of the NHL, but he will be a welcome addition to the Sens pipeline as the rebuild goes on.23) Anaheim Ducks – Ryan McLeod – C – Mississauga Steelheads – OHL (6’2”, 190 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 68 GP – 26 G, 44 A – 70 pointsRyan Getzlaf light? Ryan Getzlaf light. McLeod, the younger brother of Devils prospect Michael McLeod, is a brilliant skater that excels in all aspects of the game and when he has the puck, good luck getting it from. McLeod posses a great shot and can beat goalies from both near and far. You’d be hard pressed to find a more tenacious guy on the puck in this draft. The Ducks will count their lucky stars when they get McLeod at 23rd overall.24) Minnesota Wild – Jacob Olofsson – C – Timra IK – SHL (6’2”, 192 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 43 GP – 10 G, 11A – 21 pointsThe Wild get the best rookie from Sweden’s minor league, the Allsvenskan. Olofsson beat out both Filip Hallander and Jonathan Dahlen to claim the Golden Cage award. Olofsson is as good a two-way center prospect as they come; and as the Allsvenskan season went on, he just kept getting better. Olofsson also possess a great shot to go with his exceptional two-way ability. Olofsson could go higher than this on draft day, but if he falls to the Minnesota Wild, they should grab him. Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal aren’t getting any younger so Olofsson would be welcome in the State of Hockey as soon as he’s ready to make the jump.25 – Toronto Maple Leafs – Jared McIsaac – D – Halifax Mooseheads – QMJHL (6’1”, 194 lbs)2017-18 Stats – 65 GP – 9 G, 38 A – 47 pointsRock solid. That’s what McIsaac brings on defense. A big, reliable defensemen who the Maple Leafs desperately need in their system. McIsaac is smart in his own zone and doesn’t take many risky chances. He has shown flashes of being more dynamic than he currently is. He can skate extremely well and knows how to make that nice pass to begin a breakout or just take the puck up the ice himself. The Leafs could opt to take a chance on someone like Ryan Merkley or K’Andre Miller here, but with their window now open for a cup run, they stick with a defenseman who they know will be solid in his own end.26 – New York Rangers (From Boston) – K’Andre Miller – D – USNTDP – USDP (6’5”. 205 lbs)2017-18 Stats – 58 GP – 9 G, 20 A – 29 pointsSpeaking of K’Andre Miller, the New York Rangers will take him with the 26th overall selection in the draft. Miller, a converted forward, is one of the swiftest skaters in the draft, and when all is said and done, could end up being the best skating US defenseman in the draft. That’s how intriguing his ceiling is. He is a big kid and as the Rangers rebuild he could be an incremental piece of their new look blueline.27) Chicago Blackhawks (From Nashville) – Dominik Bokk – Vaxjo Lakers HC – SHL  – (6’1”, 179 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 51 GP – 17 G, 28 A – 45 points (Split between SHL, SuperElit, J18 Elit)The Blackhawks grab a skilled winger from the SHL to play in their top-six forward group when he’s ready. After getting the powerful Bouchard earlier, the Blackhawks get a great value pick down at the end of the first-round with Dominik Bokk. Bokk can beat defenders one-on-one and possesses a shot that opposing goalies need to be aware of. High ceiling, but can he reach it?28) New York Rangers (From Tampa Bay) – Vitali Kravtsov – RW – Traktor Chelyabinsk – KHL (6’2”, 183 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 35 GP – 4 G, 3 A – 7 pointsThe Rangers aren’t afraid to take Russian kids. Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestyerkin are recent examples of that and with their last pick of the first-round, the Rangers get someone with sky high potential. Kravtsov, according to eliteprospects.com, “can play up and down the lineup and provide scoring in a number of roles,” and “has the potential to develop into a staple top-six forward that can produce at the next level.” Sounds like someone definitely worthy of a late first round pick.29) St. Louis Blues (From Winnipeg) – Jett Woo – D – Moose Jaw Warriors – OHL (6’0”, 205 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 44 GP – 9 G, 16 A – 25 pointsWith forward reinforcements coming in the form of Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou, the Blues decide to get a big, tough defenseman with the 29th pick in the draft. Woo won’t wow anyone with his offensive acumen, but he is as solid as they come and has the size to make the jump to the NHL whenever he is ready. Adding Woo to a blueline that already has standouts in Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester makes the Blues an even bigger threat in the coming years.30) Detroit Red Wings (From Vegas) – Scott Perunovich – D – Minnesota-Duluth – NCAA (5’9”, 195 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 42 GP – 11 G, 25 A – 36 pointsThe Red Wings already have the powerful Brady Tkachuk and now at the bottom of the first-round they add one of the drafts biggest risers in Scott Perunovich. Perunovich was passed over in last year’s draft but made a huge impression this year on scouts with his superb play for Minnesota-Duluth. Perunovich is a great puck moving defenseman and will be a nice piece as the Red Wings move forward with their rebuild.31) Washington Capitals – Ryan Merkley – D – Guelph Storm – OHL (5’11”, 170 lbs)2017-18 Stats: 63 GP – 13 G, 54 A – 67 pointsThe reigning Stanley Cup champions decide to take one of the biggest gambles in the draft, but one that could pay off in spades. Merkley has top-five level talent. He can move the puck like not many others can, and his offensive capabilities are through the roof. This is a kid that can drive the play and make you pay for your mistakes. The problem scouts have with Merkley is his commitment to the defensive side of the puck, and he needs to keep working on that since, you know, he’s a defenseman. If Merkley puts it all together – watch out. He could be the largest steal of the entire draft.

Share

Tags:

Categorized: , , , , , ,